Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Pulling A Late One

A short erotic office-based story. If that's not your thing, don't read on.

Yeah, I thought you would.


Oh, you've been bad. You shouldn't have done that. Not on a weeknight. Especially not when you've got a meeting the next day.

But, fuck, it's tempting. A whole bar. Mostly students. The manager and the DJ know exactly what they're doing. Cheap alcopops. The birds love 'em, and after the first few bottles they'll do anything to get more for free.


Or, at least, you like to think. They're easy, but you still didn't get anywhere for some reason (possibly because you drank a few alcopops yourself bringing out the leering pervert in you), and you woke up alone five hours later, to both radio and phone alarms blaring. You're now sat in this mind-numbing meeting trying to prop your eyes open, oozing last night's excesses.

Focus. Look at your manager. Oh God, why does she have to be fit too?

“Just a few jobs to dish out today,” she says, sifting through stapled sheets. She says something about a park and a poster.

Wait. No, don't look at her. That blouse is making you think things again.

You take an assignment sheet, making your contribution now, to show people you're with it. Don't let your eyes drop. Loosen your collar and cool off. Straighten your tie to hide it. Listen to the conversation; don't think about those girls. Don't picture them on the podium, in their little denim skirts, bending over and-

A handful of paper passes in front of your eyes and you try not to flinch. You look up at your manager from across the table. Strike one. She's noticed you're half asleep, but she's pretending she hasn't.

Fuck, you think. You wouldn't be in this shit now if it wasn't for that DJ. You'd have just gone home if he hadn't have made them do it, made them kiss and touch each other, made them glance out to the audience where you were standing.

They even looked right at you. Like your manager is doing right now, only without the scorn. Strike two.

Your colleague is speaking, the middle-class marketing bloke with a long commute every day and a fiance waiting for him at home in the evenings. You glance at him, like you've been paying attention all along.

We're still waiting to hear back from them on that,” he says. You hear him say “leaflets”.

Stay tuned for now. When you get home, you can think about this all you want and you can crack one out, get it of the system and catch up on sleep. You can imagine you're the DJ. Oh. You want this champagne? You're going to have to show me a little more.

The girls lift up each other's tiny denim skirts, looking at you, and French kiss. They spank each other, hard, a smack that you can hear the over your music, piercing the fast-paced, tuneless track. They show off their thongs, grope each other's breasts, push their cleavages against each other.

Please, Mr. DJ. Give us your sweet champagne.

You show them the bottle as one girl buries her face in between the other girl's breasts.

Keep trying, you think.

But something isn't right: the bass has dropped out on your sound system. You don't understand the audio deck, which isn't actually there- all you can see is three squat coffee tables pushed together. All you can hear is the snare of- of-

Of fabric being stretched.

Your trousers. Your hand in your pocket. Your own tugging. You stop, and start to shrink, in more ways than one.

Your colleagues- your married manager, the recently-graduated pretty assistant with the meathead boyfriend you hear of- the pregnant girl who has to slouch a little- they are all silent, looking at the floor, scarlet faced.

Strike three. Oh, you've been bad.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Beating Very Old Gym Records

The intended outcome

Do you ever go to the gym and hit certain machines, only to find you're getting nowhere with them so move onto other exercises? Do you ever make so much progress on certain movements that you totally forget about the ones you started on? I've been keeping records on my workouts since about 2011, during which time some movements I've made loads of improvements on and some I've made none. My oldest personal bests go back to 2012. I'm confident that I can make some improvements on a few of these.

So what are they?

14 wide-grip chin-ups 21/6/12
10 mins walk 8.3kph 11/7/12
10 mins reverse cross trainer 0.48k 13/10/12
Pec deck plate 14 21/12/12
Vertical dumbbell fly 18kg x2 7/7/13
1hr on cross trainer 2.91k 25/7/13
10 mins run 14.0kph 27/11/13
10 mins cross trainer 0.69k 11/3/14
13 bicep chin-ups 14/7/14
14 horizontal grip chin-ups 16/5/15

I'm expecting quite a few improvements on these as a lot of these movements are very similar to others that I've recently made PBs on. So let's see how it goes. Obviously a month from now is slap bang between Christmas and New Year, so who knows how many gym sessions I'll get in towards the end...

Monday, 28 November 2016

Northern Quarter Pub Crawl Anyone?

How are you fixed for Saturday? Fancy doing a few bars around Manchester's trendy Northern Quarter area? Manchester Cool Bars has a crawl lined up that you can get involved in. Meet new folk. Drink cocktails. Dance. Do what you want (within reason). They're starting in Cottonopolis on Newton St at 9. Get involved!

As December encroaches I'll be putting up fewer meetups, particularly once the inevitable snow arrives, so these prospective posts will be sparse.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Secondcity in Sankeys

House music producers Secondcity played in Manchester's Sankeys last night. I saw this event- ran by Covert- in the club's calendar and put up a meetup on Manchester Cool Bars as early as possible, around a month ago, as I love their single I Wanna Feel.

We started in Northern Quarter bar Bluu, a nice place mostly for professionals and a short walk from the Ancoats venue. We got into Sankeys by 23:45 when Just Jorge was playing back-to-back with Brian Murphy, whose set included The Prodigy's Smack My Bitch Up. I was a fair bit older than a lot of people- 18-24 and good looking is the average, to whom a track like this would be before their time.

The men's toilets weren't too bad but my female friend claimed the women's was abysmal.

When Secondcity took over their set was more tech house than their warmup, but well mixed. (Although they did whip out a few remixed 90s classics. See below.) There were some impressive dancers- customers with rhythm- in the venue.

Enjoyable set! I'll be keeping my eye on Sankeys events and may run more meetups- probably in the new year.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Erick Morillo in South

It's 00:30 on Saturday morning and there's a rumour going around in South nightclub that Erick Morillo- Colombian-American house music producer / DJ due to play at some point tonight- has landed a plane- not a helicopter but an actual aeroplane- on top of The Beetham Tower in Manchester. This makes little sense to me as Beetham is a vary narrow building, but it doesn't matter as the warmup DJ is good and is playing fresh beats, melodic and not too heavy, yet not overplayed either. There's no set times available, possibly because Morillo is travelling here from York as part of his UK tour and who knows what travelling will be like, with any form of transport. (He had been in Los Angeles 2 days earlier, so the travel rumour isn't a totally unfounded concept.)

A little later, the club has filled up. Morillo takes over playing more funky, upbeat house with plenty of piano elements, which is right up my street.

Great atmosphere with good clientele. Both times I've been to South the club was hosting house music nights, a world away from the indie evens they advertise regularly (which wouldn't be my thing). But both times I attended there were good attitudes from friendly people who want to dance and have a good time with out pretense. And last night Erick Morillo was great fun to watch.

I even bumped into someone from Meetup who was out with people from a group I wasn't in. The site is gaining more presence in Manchester's nightlife all the time. So if this might have been your thing, there could be other similar events coming up soon...

Friday, 25 November 2016

Social Media Use Will Peak in 2017

2006: a handful of the cool kids I knew- early twenties, successful beautiful folk- join MySpace, the first semi-popular social media site. They upload pictures of themselves on nights out, change the backgrounds of their profiles to colour schemes or wallpapers that 'reflect' them, and install a music player so whoever visits their site is treated to the owner's favourite song. (Mine was Firefox's Sex Shooter, if you wanted to know.)

The site starts to develop popularity, but it has its drawbacks. There's no way to see your friends' new updates, like pictures or blog posts. You have to check their profile. The only updates you see are the bulletins, chunks of text sent out to all of your friends. People only use these for chain letters anyway. The site peaks in mid 2007, but usage drains suddenly. MySpace has a huge new competitor.

The cool kids have now moved over to Facebook, which requires more up-to-date software to access. The news feed allows you to see every new change your friends make, and you are notified of any changes to your own profile- comments on pics, messages left on walls, and any time someone accepts a friend request you've sent.

Facebook becomes more popular than MySpace ever was, and much quicker too. The few MySpace users forget their profiles there and spend more time on Mark Zuckerberg's much more user-friendly social media site. Facebook itself goes through numerous redesigns. Comments on statuses are now an integral function after first being allowed through a third party-add-on app, Timeline is a new (and highly controversial) overhaul of the site's functions, messages are easier to send and receive and mobile access improves greatly with the introduction of the Facebook app. But as MySpace dies off, another competitor is throwing its hat into the digital ring.

Numerous celebrity scandals, and a phone hacking investigation resulting in the closure of The News of the World, rock the nation's news outlets. Journalists are no longer waiting to publish their stories in newspapers- they're using Twitter, the fledgling social media site focussing purely on status updates. People turn to this for more up-to-date news, although many doubt the authenticity of news stories that are only 140 characters long. The site, like every other, goes through numerous redesigns in an attempt to perfect its usability.

It's 2016, and has now been a decade since MySpace's popularity spike. 2017 will mark ten years since Facebook's surge in usership- and people's uploads are already becoming noticeably less frequent. The unfollow button is becoming popular, allowing us to stay friends with someone without seeing their updates. (I've done this to 90% of my Facebook friends.) Sites like Statusbrew allow us to choose who we unfollow on Twitter with greater clarity and organisation. We're starting to become conscious of the amount of info we're being overloaded with, and we're doing something about it.

Social media is no longer fun. It's now a habit of vanity, and something we need to cut down on, for time saving's sake. I predict a number of occurrences in 2017:

  1. Schools and media outlets will offer advice on how to conduct one's self online.
  2. Facebook's popularity will ebb, with people only uploading the best parts of their lives- as many people do now- only less frequently.
  3. Facebook's Unfollow button will be used heavily, and people will start to admit to their Facebook friends that they don't see their updates any more. You'll have to visit people's pages to see what they're up to, like in the MySpace era.
  4. Livestreaming of events will be the new zeitgeist, with people reluctant to go to club nights when they can watch them from the comfort of their homes.
  5. Local bloggers and amateur writers will frequently upload multimedia news stories as they happen (I'll be one of them), hence beating qualified journalists to stories.
  6. We'll see an emergence of masses and masses of old pictures and video footage, largely shared over Facebook and Twitter with the #tbt (Throwback Thursday) hashtag. As everyone famous went to school with 30-or so other people, most celebrities will find old pictures of themselves emerging online, taken before the days of social media. Then, after a few more years, this will ebb off as the younger generation's lives have already been largely documented online. This prediction extends beyond 2017, but the peak of the uploading will occur within it.
  7. Meetup will become hugely popular. Meetup is a social media site, with the emphasis on 'social.' It's intended to help people to find new friends with similar interests and hobbies. Time is a precious commodity, and with long-standing friends unable to make social occasions, for the few with available time, new friends will fill the gap. I joined many groups at a time when my longer-standing friends were going back into education, getting married or having kids (none of which I was doing). I'm not the only person to give the site a shot for those reasons. Many Meetup attendees have said the same things. As the months go on I'm noticing an explosion in the site's popularity, with more and more groups opening up all the time. Meetup has 187K likes on its Facebook page and 38K Twitter. There'll be a million on both in 3 years. It's not only successful, it's hugely fun too, and is the only social media site I've found to emphasise the importance of getting out and meeting people in the flesh, and to actually make it easier to do so.
In conclusion, social media will no longer be thought of as a trendy pastime or a young person's thing. It'll just be another tool for communication, and will be used with more purpose and with less vanity. We'll learn to be more conscious about our uploads, and we'll remember that there's a world out there that we used to partake in a little more than we do now. And we'll get back to doing that.

Remember, though, what you put on the internet largely stays there. My old MySpace profile is still visible, although my login hasn't seemed to work since the site's overhaul a couple of years ago. Also a lot of the info I published- the blog and the bulletins- seem to have disappeared. But your old profiles and questionable updates may still be available to potential employers, so as social media tech moves forward, it might be worth having a trek back through those near-redundant sites- some content, perhaps a dodgy status about an individual- might not be as buried as you might have hoped...

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Teach Yourself Time Management

For this week's #creativewednesday, I've written an abecedarian poem – a poem with a structure derived from the alphabet. It's also a book review.

Another Oxfam purchase
bought in the Oldham store for two quid
can't deny it was a bargain
designed to help anyone,
especially business managers
forget wasting time and resources
get efficient and learn techniques to be so.
How to plan your time and your goals: use
Improve Your Time Management
just 200 pages. Concise yet detailed,
kick your organisational skills into touch
learn from the best. Published in '09,
most of it is still relevant
only passages on mobile phones and organisers
provide outdated information.
Quite a lot of the advice should be
really obvious anyway, common sense is key.
Still, the most interesting parts include
techniques for how to say 'no.'
Unusual to find this difficult, you may think
very awkward, though, for shy people
with this book, the advice should be valuable
X-ray-like insight from Polly Bird
Zip through your goals with her advice.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Come and See Secondcity in Sankeys

Who remember's Secondcity's hit 'I Wanna Feel' from 2014?

A bit of a blinder, yes? Well, guess what. Secondcity, based in London and Chicago, are playing at Manchester's Sankeys this Saturday. I've got my ticket, and so have a couple of others. There's a meetup with Manchester Cool Bars if you fancy taking a look and meeting new people in the process. It'll be a night of great house music, in a well-respected sweatbox club on the edge of the city. Last time I went to Sankeys, 6 months or so ago, The Martinez Brothers were incredible. There's 6 of us so far going to the Secondcity event. Tickets are still available! Get involved! We're meeting in Bluu in the Northern Quarter. Sankeys is a little further out, but a short taxi ride away on that side of the city.

Keep your eye on Manchester Cool Bars as I've booked a lot of leave and want to do something midweek. I'll be throwing up events very soon and at the last minute as usual!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Watch These Irish UFC Fans Go Ballistic at Conor McGregor's Win

Rolled into Genting at 3 in the morning
to catch some of UFC 205
I'd been to a party that was set in the 40s
that had tried to keep the roaring decade alive
So what better way to watch MMA
than in a stiff collared shirt
and a suit of layered grey?
Stood at the bar I bumped into some brethren
who'd been at the casino for 197
Some were local, some were Omagh fellas,
sipping on pints of Cronenberg and Stella
Woodley fought Thompson and Thompson got trounced
and 2 Polish names that I couldn't pronounce
fought for a belt, the champ of strawweight
Johanna retained, but made us all wait
for the main event and the Irish contingent
Who treated the rules like they weren't quite so stringent,
who's rise to stardom was violent and and glorious
who gained the Irish moniker of 'Notorious'
When the fight was stopped, I pretty much missed it
'Cause the Irish fellas went full on ballistic
Throwing chairs with a bawl and a shout
'til the doormen came and threw them all out.
So hats off to McGregor, there's no mystery,
he's the first 2-weight champ in UFC history.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

I Partied Like Gatsby

He walks on stage in a barbershop-quartet-style straw hat and braces, pushing a giant hula hoop. Waving at the crowd, and with a manic grin on his face, he climbs in to the hoop, clings onto the rim and starts to roll.

It's not 1946 in Chicago- it's still November 2016, and in Victoria Warehouse in Trafford Park, Party Like Gatsby is in full swing, with the emphasis on 'swing.'

Let's put the needle at the start of the record, shall we? Manchester Cool Bars organised a trip to Manchester's Gatsby Party after the organiser saw the event online. The parties had taken place in the likes of Reykjavik, Dublin, Budapest, Oslo and pretty much every major German city on the map.

Inspired by The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald's novel of excess and exuberance (and a dreadful case of one-itis) The parties consist of live music in swing-style, stage shows, acrobatics and 1940's style fashion.

We started in Albert's Schloss on Peter St, ideal for its similar retro themes, live music, vintage outfits and fancy cocktails. I tried the Dirty Birtie. I'm sorry, but this cocktail was gross. I let one of the girls in our group try it- she regretted it. I've had others there that were much better.

Hugely popular bar that reached capacity not long after I got in. After the group convened we shared taxis down to Victoria Warehouse.

I was wondering how a promotional team could turn an old empty warehouse- usually used for packed dance music nights- into a location for an exuberant, glamorous old-fashioned party. But they managed it, starting with plenty of curtains and roaming floodlights. Balloons, aerial dancers and fire breathers all played their part in bringing the glam cabaret-style show to life, to the point you forget you're in a large former trading mill in South Manchester.

The club steadily filled up with men in suits, braces and trilbies, and women in elegant gowns and headpieces. Some had evidently spent a small fortune on their outfits. I already owned all of mine. I just gelled my hair into a side parting before I left.

The bar was a problem: the staff were obviously drafted in for the one-off night; they were under-trained and didn't gel together. Serving times were lengthy, and drinks were routine. I was hoping for cocktails from the era, but that would have been too big an ask.

Before long there was a fanfare of sorts, the lights dimmed in the hall and the stage was illuminated. Cue Ben Hart, compare and entertainer, a talented young chap who was standing too far away from the edge of the stage and we couldn't really see him. We got the gist of his performance, though, an impressive attempt at combined stripping and juggling, or as he called it, 'struggling.'

Burlesque performers, acrobats (one of which looked just like Bugsy from Once Upon a Time in America), singers, a live band, aerial dancers, fire eaters- the show was packed with in-theme entertainment that appealed to the whole crowd- men, women, late-teen students, forty-something-year-old professionals- the theme struck a chord with everyone there. 

The modern pop songs done in swing-style were a real treat, and each number left you guessing what track had been Gatsby-fied right up until the opening lyrics, or even the hook.

DJ Annio (bearing more than a slight resemblance to Radio 1's Annie Mac) polished off the night with a well-fitting electro-swing mix- 20s-40s music with a contemporary house music beat. This strayed into hard core dance later on, which was a little out of character, featuring songs about albatross and a llama in a living room. Bizarre, but still entertaining. After the event had finished, the cloakroom offered the same issues as the bar: very lengthy queues. As the event took place in November in northern England, everyone had a coat to collect.

Issues aside, this night was well worth seeing. The meetup was well attended, the outfits were stunning, and the entertainment mostly spot on. If this runs again in Manchester, I expect Manchester Cool Bars will be hosting a meetup there.

Nas' shoes, ladies and gentlemen



This guy made sure the acrobats- performing in the middle of a packed dancefloor- had room to move. He looks the part, no?



One of the performers stuffed this into my top pocket before he started his act